RAINBIO – a compilation of tropical African vascular plants

In this data paper, researchers present a comprehensive database of vascular plants in tropical sub-Saharan Africa compiled from 13 different datasets

Data resources used via GBIF : 70,220 species occurrences
Tiger lotus (Nymphaea lotus)

Tiger lotus (Nymphaea lotus) by John Barkla. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Tropical Africa contains high levels of species diversity, but data from the region is scarce and at best, fragmented. Biodiversity data is crucial for wise and sustainable conservation assessments, but also for understanding the shifts imposed by climate change and other human-mediated activities.

This study presents a unique compilation of ­­13 datasets of vascular plants in sub-Saharan tropical Africa from a variety of sources, including two GBIF-mediated datasets. Researchers carried out extensive quality checking including geo-referencing verification, taxonomic standardization, and duplication filtering, reducing the raw dataset from 977,000 to 614,000 records. As the goal was to focus on indigenous plants, the researchers used GBIF-mediated occurrences of all species to check distributions and remove 1,635 non-native species.

The final dataset comprises 25,356 species of vascular plants collected from 1782 to 2015 and includes habitat data for nearly all species. The authors have made the database available for online download under a Creative Commons BY-NC license.


Gilles D, Zaiss R, Blach-Overgaard A, Catarino L, Damen T, Deblauwe V, Dessein S, Dransfield J, Droissart V, Duarte MC, Engledow H, Fadeur G, Figueira R, Gereau RE, Hardy OJ, Harris DJ, de Heij J, Janssens S, Klomberg Y, Ley AC, MacKinder BA, Meerts P, van de Poel JL, Sonké B, Sosef MSM, Stévart T, Stoffelen P, Svenning J-C, Sepulchre P, van der Burgt X, Wieringa JJ and Couvreur TLP (2016) RAINBIO: a mega-database of tropical African vascular plants distributions. PhytoKeys. Pensoft Publishers 74: 1–18. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.74.9723.